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Keywords:

  • Eocene;
  • Europe;
  • paleoecology;
  • diet;
  • microwear

Abstract

Diet is of paramount importance in the life of a primate. It is also highly variable, as potential food sources vary in spatial distribution and availability over time. The fossil record, due to its fragmentary nature, offers few possibilities to assess the dietary range of a given primate across its spatial and temporal distribution. Here we focus on three taxa, Leptadapis magnus (Adapidae, Adapiformes), Necrolemur cf. antiquus (Microchoeridae, Omomyiformes), and Pseudoloris parvulus (Microchoeridae, Omomyiformes). These taxa occur at different localities of the Late Eocene in the south of France ranging from MP16 (Robiac, Lavergne; 39 Ma), MP17a (La Bouffie, Euzet, Fons 4; 38 Ma) to MP17b (Perrière; 37 Ma). Diets of fossil taxa are assessed here by dental microwear analysis using a comparative database of 11 species of living strepsirhines. On the whole, leaves were a preferred food for the large-bodied Leptadapis (4–5 kg). However, the diet of this taxon varied from a mix of leaves and fruit at La Bouffie, a closed tropical rain forest environment, to a strictly leaf-eating one in the more open environment of Perrière. Based on body mass (200–350 g) and dental microwear patterns, Necrolemur had a mainly fruit-based diet, perhaps supplemented by insects. However, the comparison of the different localities reveals the dietary range of this small-bodied omomyiform which seems to vary between insects and a much softer diet. Pseudoloris had a diet strictly based on insects. Contrary to Leptadapis or Necrolemur, its diet seems to have been confined to insects whatever the locality considered. Am J Phys Anthropol 147:201–216, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.